The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery
The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery was created in 1976 and is awarded annually to honour firefighters who have gone above and beyond to protect and serve their community.
Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery Recipients presented alphabetically:
Firefighter Dave Archer of the Toronto Fire Services
Firefighter Dave Archer was taking a break from the CPR course he was teaching on May 20, 2015, when he detected the smell of smoke nearby. The off-duty firefighter, dressed in street clothes and sandals, followed the smell to a three-story, semi-detached house nearby.
Informed by passersby that 9-1-1 had been called, Firefighter Archer immediately circled the building intending to quickly brief the firefighters as they arrived. He discovered a man leaning precariously out of a top floor window surrounded by thick smoke. Firefighter Archer yelled to the man that help was on the way. But he said he was unable to hold on for much longer because of the intense heat and smoke inside.
It was an approximate nine metre drop from the window to the concrete pavement below. Archer could hear sirens in the distance, but he knew he was in a race against time. He was convinced that the way the man was positioned, that he would most likely land on his head if he lost his grip. Inappropriately dressed and without a breathing apparatus, he made the decision to enter the building and rescue the man.
Firefighter Archer was able to assess smoke conditions up the stairwell to locate a third floor bedroom where he pulled the man from the window and escorted him to safety.
The man suffered smoke inhalation, but the situation could have been fatal if not for the quick action of Firefighter Dave Archer and his willingness to confront a dangerous situation.
Firefighters Bill Brazeau and Ryan Brazeau of the Gravenhurst Fire Department
Entering a burning building to save lives is a risk many firefighters must take. A morning fire on Dec. 16, 2014, at a year-round trailer park in Muskoka, and with zero visibility inside the trailer, added to the risk for volunteer Firefighters Bill and Ryan Brazeau, a father and son team.
Upon arrival at the scene, the firefighters were met by a frantic woman who had escaped the blaze but said a man was trapped inside. The Brazeaus, each wearing a breathing apparatus, entered the trailer and fought through thick, heavy smoke to where the man was believed to be located. Within seconds and without warning the fire intensified, the interior grew hotter and visibility plunged to zero. Fire now blocked the entrance, trapping the two firefighters.
Making a life or death decision, Ryan dove head first out a window. His father followed but his equipment snagged on something inside the trailer, leaving him stuck. Ignoring the intense smoke and heat, Ryan reached back and grabbed his father. With extreme effort, Ryan was able to pull him through the window.
It took approximately an hour to bring the fire under control. Sadly, the victim was later located in the rear bedroom of the trailer and did not survive. The outer layer of Bill's coat and pants were completely burned through and he suffered severe third degree burns to his hands, shoulder and back. Ryan sustained burns to his shoulder, ears and hands, likely resulting from pulling his father to safety.
Firefighter Bill and Ryan Brazeau showed exceptional courage in a very hostile situation.
Chief Brent Marshall, Deputy Chief Harry Olivieri and Assistant Deputy Chief Bruce Morrison of the Halton Hills Fire Department
On the morning of Nov. 20, 2015, Deputy Chief Harry Olivieri and Assistant Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Morrison received word that one of their firefighters had not reported to duty. This deeply concerned both men as this firefighter had previously attempted suicide. They made several unsuccessful attempts to contact his spouse on the way to the residence.
Upon arrival they noticed both cars in the driveway. The couple's dogs were in one of the vehicles. Deputy Chief Olivieri approached the house and rang the doorbell; there was no answer. He noticed blackened windows and could hear a smoke alarm inside. He called out to Assistant Deputy Chief Morrison that the house was on fire, and immediately called Chief Brent Marshall.
Chief Marshall sped to the scene while the two firefighters assessed the situation. All doors were locked, but they found an axe in the garage that Deputy Chief Olivieri used to break through a solarium door. Both firefighters entered the house but were pushed back by heavy, acrid smoke.
When Chief Marshall arrived he found his deputies coughing violently from smoke inhalation. This did not deter them, however, as all three made repeated attempts to enter the house from multiple access points. Each attempt was unsuccessful due to zero visibility and worsening smoke conditions.
Fire trucks arrived. Firefighters attended to the blaze and conducted an interior search. The bodies of the firefighter and his wife were recovered.
With no protective clothing or breathing apparatus, Chief Brent Marshal, Deputy Chief Harry Olivieri and Assistant Deputy Chief Bruce Morrison put their lives on the line attempting to rescue one of their own and his wife.